Gottlieb Pferd
10 months ago
1 month ago
16
The mighty Posh

https://www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk/webimg/T0FLMTIxNTU3MjE1.jpg

Hello and welcome to my adventure with Peterborough United. The idea of the blog is that it is more of a record of my progress, thoughts and tactics than a story. I will, of course, try to make it as enjoyable as possible to read, though, and welcome any contributions!

I have chosen The Posh for a few reasons. They have a tendency to play attacking football, with young players. They spend good money on their academy and they tend to scout in the lower leagues of football for "rough diamonds". These are all things that appeal to my general style and approach to football. I am looking to improve my tactical ability and my patience when it comes to developing players.

The board are ambitious for a club of this size and I am hoping that translates in the game. I will be following the club's general approach, which is to sell players at a high profit and re-invest it into the academy/stadium, and spend the rest of my time focusing on developing a balanced, attacking style of play and developing my players as much as possible.

How things develop from there and how the story goes is up in the air. To start off, I'll try and do a brief overview of the club as it currently stands and highlight a few areas where I see immediate room for improvement.

Gottlieb Pferd
10 months ago
1 month ago
16
CLUB OBJECTIVES & PHILOSOPHIES, BOARD MEMBERS, FACILITIES AND AFFILIATES

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d4/Peterborough_United.svg


Before looking into making any changes, it is of course important to look at what the board want from me in the role. I have tallied my attributes toward what I expect to be the requirements, as well as toward my own personal management style.

https://i.imgur.com/LY81YNI.png[/font][/size][/color]

I have put a focus on motivation and discipline for my mental stats, with my coaching focus primarily being on attacking and working with youngsters.

I have had modest success so far in FM20, with my previous story on here seeing me advance to the Championship with Cambridge (having been sacked by Preussen Munster after just a few months) before challenging at the top end of the Championship with a previously struggling Stoke side. I began that story on this site, but it was mostly updated on the SI forums: Munster/Cambridge Utd/Stoke

I would say my main strengths as a manager are tactical acumen, maintaining a good team atmosphere and identifying/signing players. In other saves I have consistently been able to find players on the cheap and make huge profit, allowing me to challenge for major honours with much smaller sides (won Polish and Czech leagues with Pogon Szcezcin and Dukla Prague, within 1 season and 3 seasons, respectively)

Where I believe I am still weak is in training in terms of scheduling and player development as well as taking a hands on approach to the youth squads in general. I also have a tendency to lose patience if things start to go downhill. These are all things I will be looking to work on in this save.

https://i.imgur.com/2pw81O5.png[/font][/size][/color]

Here are the club's demands. It is much as I suspected, and I will have to factor in all of these priorities whenever I make decisions related to playing and non-playing staff. As I see it, the biggest challenges I have to balance out here are:

[ul]
Maintaining a strong mentality in terms of morale and consistency
Having sufficient experience to challenge at the top end of the table
Having the fitness levels to maintain an attacking/possession-based tactic for a whole season across 4 competitions.
[/ul]

In real life, Darragh MacAnthony is a highly demanding chairman, who is not known for his patience (Briefly on that note, he has an enjoyable podcast that I would recommend). I expect to have pressure from the get-go to achieve the club's ambition of making the play-offs. By next season, the club will have to be in the Championship, at the latest

https://i.imgur.com/u9vbktc.png

The club has decent facilities and a decent stadium capacity, certainly enough for me to go off with for the time being. It is clear that this is an area where investment will be required going forward, though.

https://i.imgur.com/aB7JFyW.png

In addition, the club has average recruitment and junior coaching. Another area for investment in the future.

https://i.imgur.com/rqWp2rm.png

As things stand, St. Neots are our only affiliate club and they are not even in the game. That makes them next to useless. We will have to take a look at this going forward, as I like to have a regular place to send my development prospects where we know about the manager, playing style and facilities.

https://i.imgur.com/3prsvnT.png

For now, the club has a decent enough bank balance. We have plenty of outgoings though as well, so it will be imperative that we make a profit on selling players annually.




Gottlieb Pferd
10 months ago
1 month ago
16
FIRST TEAM PLAYING AND NON-PLAYING STAFF

The first port of call for me is to take a look at my non-playing staff and take a thorough evaluation. I will look at recruitment staff in a separate section, and I will be leaving the appointment of Physios/Sports Scientists/Doctors to my DoF/Darragh MacAnthony. That means looking at my assistant manager, head of youth development and coaches.

My analysis will focus on their personalities, attributes and playing style, prioritized in that order. As such, I have decided to sadly say goodbye to club legend and goalkeeping coach Mark Tyler. Despite having a Fairly Professional personality, he has pretty poor stats for a coach, has a very defensive playing preference and I am afraid I don't see enough room for improvement in the near future. Mutual termination of his contract will set us back EUR 65,000 but I am confident this is the right call. In addition, fitness coach Mark Smith has also been let go from his contract. Making the right investment to fill these gaps will be vital to ensure that money does not go to waste.
 https://i.imgur.com/nll8ktW.png[/font][/size][/color][/center]
Gavin will remain my assistant manager for now, he has a similar tactical style, an all-round coaching profile and a Fairly Professional personality. All of which fit into the mould we are looking for.

https://i.imgur.com/OUA2Tmo.png[/font][/size][/color]

Also staying at the club is Aaron Mclean, he has an ambitious mentality so I expect to see his stats to improve, while he is already a good attacking coach. In addition he favours a playing style that is attacking and possession-oriented in nature. He is not a motivating coach, so this will have to be balanced out.

https://i.imgur.com/J5EWu2j.png

Finally Kieran Scarff will remain in charge of the Development Squad as Head of Youth Development. His attacking style and ability to work with youth both speak in his favour, though I do see room for improvement here. We will re-assess the situation after the March youth intake.


https://i.imgur.com/fib9ncy.png

Hopefully joining the club is Kevin Hitchcock as Goalkeeping Coach, after he agreed to contract terms.  I was toying with the idea of not hiring a GK coach at all, but after finding Kevin, I decided to go for it. While he favours a fluid counter-attacking style, his Model Professional personality and his excellent coaching skills forced my hand.

https://i.imgur.com/mBnC0mQ.png

Joining Kevin is Ben Dixon, formerly of Watford. He will join us as a Fitness Coach and his preferred playing style and motivation skills will help to balance out our coaching staff. With one slot remaining on the coaching staff, I will keep my eye open over pre-season for another addition. I would probably favour a fitness coach to ensure we boost the physical stats of our young players. 

PLAYING STAFF

Obviously the most important part of being a football manager is ensuring you have the best squad possible. For us that means a fine financial balance of experienced players, one or two players at their peak, young talented players on cheap wages, rough diamonds (around the ages of 21-24) and the odd loanee.

This squad has a decent smattering of all of these. In terms of experience, we have ex-Burnley man and club legend George Boyd. He has a high wage and a two-year contract so it will be imperative that we find a way of keeping him fit. If anyone has any experience with this I would appreciate some pointers - all of my over 30 players seem to go off a cliff rapidly. If we are able to do that, I should be able to find ways to keep him an important part of this team, both on the field and off of it as a mentor. 

https://i.imgur.com/AOTjc0y.png

In terms of players at their peak, our key man is Ivan Toney. With just two year's left on his contract, this is likely to be his last year at the club which means we have to get the most out of his current ability and then ensure we get the best possible deal for the club come next summer. As a striker, Ivan is an all-rounder who will score goals, help with build up and be a general busy-body. At 23 years of age as well, he is an exceptional player to have on our hands at this level. 

https://i.imgur.com/HCvWCQL.png

In terms of young and talented players on cheap wages, we have Louis Reed, Idris Kanu and Harrison Burrows, all of which are likely to play some role in the side going this season. Louis is the most experienced of the three and on the highest wages but is still yet to fully establish himself at this level. I can see him being an important player for us this season, as his ability and playing style fits well to our club culture.

https://i.imgur.com/DqyZDvi.png

In terms of rough diamonds, we have Jack Taylor and Siriki Dembele. One could argue that Siriki is already a ready-made player for this level, but I think that he has some work to do if he is to fit into one of my attacking/possession-tactics. I am hoping we can turn him into a more well-rounded player this season that will be considerably valuable in the future. His excellent personality gives me hope in that regard. Jack is one of the latest players to have been brought from the lower leagues in England and has some good attacking stats but is lacking in other areas. He also has a poor personality so getting him mentored by George Boyd will be imperative.

https://i.imgur.com/K5NRSji.png

https://i.imgur.com/KUptrNm.png

Finally in terms of loanees, the club is privileged to have Leicester's Josh Knight at the club. He is also well-suited to our playing style and should play a key role this season. 

https://i.imgur.com/ojpwKYn.png

In terms of adding players to this squad, I will make decisions over the course of pre-season. I tend to like to know everything about a player before I sign them so it is unlikely I will make any significant changes, perhaps just one or two that successfully trial with us.

Next, I will be taking a closer look at our academy staff and players, getting to know our young talents and seeing what we can do in the short-term to increase the likelihood of them being able to step into the first team.
Gottlieb Pferd
10 months ago
1 month ago
16
YOUTH TEAM PLAYING AND NON-PLAYING STAFF

As I made clear from the outset, the youth team will have to play a crucial role for me and that means following every player coming through the ranks as closely as possible. First off, we need good staff. The current U18 manager is Matty Etherington. Matty came from the Peterborough United academy, has strong mental stats and a fairly ambitious personality. His playing style doesn't exactly fit with ours, he isn't the best coach and his management skills require a little refinement. Nevertheless he is certainly talented and won't be doing us any harm in the short term.

https://i.imgur.com/WvkjkIG.png

Joining him as coach is ex-Fulham player and Posh academy graduate Simon Davies. Simon has good coaching and management skills and a balanced personality.

https://i.imgur.com/UFpYg98.png

These two will head up the main responsibilities for our youth players, though I intend to add a couple more talented young fitness coaches to their ranks.

The U23 squad is currently managed by my first team staff. As I don't intend to keep it fully stocked with players (graduates will join the first team, head out on loan or be released), this will remain the case until we are perhaps in a higher league and have more regular income.

PLAYING STAFF

The U23/U18 teams are mixed but there are a few real talents in there. Serhat Tasdemir joined from non-league Fylde this summer and has some great physical stats. Getting him game time will be imperative to his development this year at his age and having come from playing regularly. Otherwise we may have to look at sending him on loan.
https://i.imgur.com/zkrDuzs.png

Bobby Copping is probably the most promising prospect for me. At 17, he is already quite well developed and already possesses a Professional personality. He could slot into our possession-based tactics with his technical skills and his PPIs as well, so I expect him to see a fair amount of game time in the first team this season.
https://i.imgur.com/rGJKx8c.png

The vultures are already circling around Ricky Jade-Jones, no doubt intrigued by his explosive pace. He has plenty of work to do if he is to achieve his potential but he is certainly an exciting talent.
https://i.imgur.com/sqKcINd.png

Flynn Clarke's potential is perhaps not as immediately perceptible as that of Ricky Jade-Jones, but he has pretty balanced mental stats for his age and decent enough pace. Technically decent, too, the only concern would be his height and finding a role in our formation where he can get regular game time.
https://i.imgur.com/5Cjp20y.png

Finally, Archie Jones is a talented little playmaker. He is perhaps the least likely to see game time this season but he has some real standout attributes. If he can progress well with the U18 team this season, then who knows?
https://i.imgur.com/fcTTYfa.png

Peterborough United first team vs Peterborough United U23s

The day after taking the job, I organised a match between my first team boys and the academy to get a little bit more of a look at what I was dealing with and lay out the basics of my tactical ideas. Of course there isn't much to be read from it, and a number of our U18 boys didn't even feature. Nevertheless, the first team looked relentless and showed clear signs of familiarity with my attacking tactics already.

https://i.imgur.com/stYgQjv.png

Next up, I will review my initial tactical thoughts and my initial training plan for the season. I will also take a slightly more in depth look at the personality of my squad and their dynamics before diving into pre-season.
Gottlieb Pferd
10 months ago
1 month ago
16
TRAINING, PERSONALITY AND DYNAMICS

Before heading into pre-season, I like to make sure that I have a clear idea of how my team should and is capable of playing and then tailor my training schedules to that. I also like to make sure that pre-season training is fairly fitness heavy so I like to go half/half on fitness and tactical focuses up until the first game of the official season. At that point I turn toward tactical training and team cohesion until around November, or whenever these reach acceptable levels. As you can see, we are currently far from that point:

https://i.imgur.com/9103eKz.png
https://i.imgur.com/8IIRvyr.png

The following two schedules are my fitness and tactical schedules for pre-season. Both are fairly demanding and I will be monitoring individual player fitness at the same time to ensure we don't have any injuries. As you can see from the tactical training, it still involves a number of physical elements and is then focused on the basics of our tactical approach.

https://i.imgur.com/XIo6AI4.png
https://i.imgur.com/gyVOQO3.png

Specific elements of our tactical approach will begin with Phase One once the season proper starts. I will continue this phase until we reach a strong tactical familiarity and team cohesion, at which stage I will begin to focus more on individual training. Here are the Phase 1 Attacking and Possession training templates:

https://i.imgur.com/SyzdpTD.png
https://i.imgur.com/3m4IMgU.png

I will continue to monitor their effectiveness over the course of the early part of the season and any potential injury problems. On that note, I took a look at the squad to see which players I will have to keep an eye on as the season progresses. It is of course vital that we keep such a small team fit throughout the key parts of the season, with so many games to play, so this will be a key area of focus for me:

https://i.imgur.com/yxKcbrN.png

It would appear that I will have to monitor the situation for O'Malley, Bennett, Thompson, Mason and Dembele in particular. Looking at that list in more detail, it is clear however that we have a relatively strong squad in terms of personality. I have hand-picked a couple of our more important players to become mentors to some of the young lads:

https://i.imgur.com/LAYj5ft.png

Hopefully this will pay dividends over the course of the season and beyond. Next up, I will turn to the results of pre-season and preview the new campaign.

Gottlieb Pferd
10 months ago
1 month ago
16
PRE-SEASON

So let's get straight to it. Pre-season saw us play a few decent European teams at the London Road Stadium (otherwise known as "the Abax"😉. We also played against local affiliate St. Neots and travelled to Israel for a few days for a couple of games. Overall I have to be very pleased with the results indeed.

https://i.imgur.com/KkbdB7R.png

The games were nicely spread out, meaning we were able to get everybody up to speed and also run full training sessions throughout the week. I'm really happy with where we are at going into the season. We opened up with a match against Ligue 1 side Amiens..

https://i.imgur.com/N7IXuHk.png

Not a result I was expecting exactly, as Eisa and Toney blew them out of the water. We were 3-0 up before they got the red card and after that it was plain sailing. A little bit disappointing that we ended up considering but on the whole, very little to complain about.

https://i.imgur.com/1zYhBOW.png

This game saw us field two different 11s, with plenty of youth players added into the mix. All of the goals were scored by our academy prospects, which was nice to see.

https://i.imgur.com/6UqEKM6.png

Then it was off to Israel to face Beiter Jerusalem. We played a very strong game indeed, and this time did well to respond instantly to their equaliser. We went with an attacking approach again and were rewarded for our boldness.

https://i.imgur.com/TFLYfSO.png

Another pre-season hat-trick for Eisa against these Israeli minnows, who had been hammered 9-0 by QPR in their previous game.

https://i.imgur.com/ZQUZfpQ.png

Finally a really strong performance against a decent Granada side, having a goal disallowed and missing a penalty in the dying minutes. We again got plenty of minutes into our players and look ready for the season ahead with just a week to go.

We did suffer a number of minor injuries through pre-season, but we coped with it well through a decent amount of rotation. I also brought in a highly talented young Sports Scientist to monitor this throughout the season.

https://i.imgur.com/gz5nXYT.png

Adam will play a key role for us, due to the fact that we are playing a fairly physically demanding tactic. Sadly, we missed out on Hitchcock and Dixon, as they joined Notts Forest and Man Utd, respectively. Instead, we brought in Stuart Naylor, former Brentford man Bartek Sywestrzak and Ben Nicholson to make up our first team coaching team. All three are highly talented coaches, with excellent mentalities and who fit our club philosophy. I'm exciting to see what impact they have on our young players.

https://i.imgur.com/Lf6nCQe.png
https://i.imgur.com/ybrCyDR.png
https://i.imgur.com/zEK1OV1.png

Meanwhile, I'm really pleased to welcome ex-Premier League players Jari Litmanen and Brian McBride to our Development Team. They are both excellent professionals and talented coaches who will hopefully develop well with us and help improve the mentality of our young players.

https://i.imgur.com/0kdqIme.png
https://i.imgur.com/a7uRUHS.png

In terms of player transfers, we did end up bringing in a couple of new faces. Robbie Gotts joins us on loan from Leeds United and is a really versatile young midfielder. He can fill in to a central midfield role and at either wing-back position. Jake Wright gives us an extra defensive option and brings a fantastic personality and plenty of League One experience. He joins us on a one-year contract.

https://i.imgur.com/tzgHAuA.png
https://i.imgur.com/Qz8Ujzg.png

TACTICAL SET-UP

Finally, a quick glance at the tactics I intend to use during the season. I plan to use just two set tactics for now, as I want to get the players used to it as soon as possible. If we get familiar soon enough, I will probably look to create a relatively high-tempo counter-attacking strategy as well for later in the season. I hope our attacking tactics get us off to a strong start.

https://i.imgur.com/Dm4GWC7.png

This is a typical attacking line-up for us. I will generally have an overlapping full-back on the right or the left, depending on where we are strongest that game, but otherwise we have plenty of options for goals. The BBM can score from deep, the AF can get onto crosses from out wide or through balls from his supporting striker/attacking midfielder. I have only added a coupled of personalised individual player instructions from time to time to minimize specific player weaknesses, but otherwise the set up is simply what you see here.

https://i.imgur.com/teimcki.png

Same goes for this possession-based tactic. Here the attacking midfielder drops back into a midfield three to provide us with a little bit more solidity, and the team is generally more risk-averse. I will probably adapt these as the season goes on, but I generally don't expect to leave the sort of general 3-5-2 shape unless we get any injuries to key players and are forced to rejig things slightly. The great thing about this shape, though is that you can easily shift it into a 4-4-2 diamond by pushing back the wing-backs and one of the centre-backs forward, or into a 4-3-3 DM with a couple of inside-forwards, and not have to change the style of play too much.

So that's that, we're ready to go for the season ahead. Next update will be the first month of the season.

Gottlieb Pferd
10 months ago
1 month ago
16
AUGUST 2019

https://www.scunthorpe-united.co.uk/contentassets/f2a096b8413c44f6b813fcb2c07995ce/peterboroughstadium.jpg

The season kicked off for us on 3 August with a home match against Joey Barton's Fleetwood Town. Going into the season, I am still a little concerned about the team cohesion but I was confident that we had enough quality to have a solid enough start. Of course it is a very long season so my main concern was not to slip into any bad runs early on.

Before the season kicked off, I decided to name Nathan Thompson as my captain, and Mark Beevers as vice-captain. Both are likely to feature plenty this season, have strong personalities and are great team players. They also have a great deal of experience at this level and I'm hoping they can set the tone for the rest of the squad.

https://i.imgur.com/6pGhcuW.png

The first month of the season would see us up against a few big teams, including Ipswich Town and Sunderland, while also facing a Carabao Cup fixture against Coventry City. That pretty much meant two games a week so rotation would be absolutely necessary.

https://i.imgur.com/43eXTJP.png

The first game of the season was against Fleetwood and it was a really pleasing performance. We went a goal down from a wide free-kick, which I had expected to be an issue. 6'5" Harry Souttar caused us problems the whole game, but fortunately we were able to come from behind as first we opened up space in the centre by playing out to Gotts on the right before Knight lashed home from outside of the box, before Gotts got in behind the full-back to cross for debutant Frazer Blake-Tracy to head in at the far post. Gottsy's straight red made it a nervy finish but it was a deserved win.

https://i.imgur.com/QUyidvb.png

Next up was a trip to Oxford, and things didn't go quite so well. The game was generally pretty even and we probably had the better of the chances until toward the end of the game, when substitute Blake-Tracy was skinned twice for their goals.

https://i.imgur.com/5lCSnLy.png

That defeat was followed by an even more comprehensive one at the hands of Coventry City, albeit we fielded a pretty much second-string team. Both of their goals came from corners, which was extremely disappointing as it was something we had worked on before the match and set up to counter. We actually played quite well on the break and I was delighted to see Jade-Jones scoring on his debut and become the club's youngest ever goalscorer. Nevertheless, a defeat is a defeat and of course the board were not so happy to see us out of the cup in the first round.

https://i.imgur.com/hJSdcXS.png

https://i.imgur.com/iiiWh5l.png

On the flip side, fielding a weakened team meant that our first-choice players were fully fit for the home game against Ipswich. We put in a really strong performance, controlling possession and making plenty of chances. Seeing Mo Eisa get off the mark with a brace was also really pleasing.

https://i.imgur.com/tlaOaWh.png

I had hoped we would take that momentum into the match against lowly Southend United, but sadly it wasn't too be. We completely dominated the match, but never really made that many clear opportunities. They had set up with essentially 7 defenders and our more creative players were sadly unable to find any solutions. In addition, Blake-Tracy picked up an injury that would rule him out for the rest of the month.

https://i.imgur.com/oeRs0Wa.png

Just a couple of days later it was a trip to our rivals MK Dons though, and this time we were more incisive. Knighty got on the scoresheet again with another screamer into the top corner and, despite the Dons levelling up the score soon after, we managed to retake the lead through Ivan Toney's first of the season. It was a generally strong defensive performance, though their goal once again came down our left side which is becoming something of a concern.

https://i.imgur.com/nvnIihS.png

We had a week to recharge for this game and I put out our strongest side and, despite dominating the match, we lost to two sucker-punches from Sunderland. First of all, they took the lead through a beautiful 30-yard free kick from Maguire, before we levelled the scores from a corner-kick, Frankie Kent slamming his header past the keeper. We dominated for the rest of the match and generally kept their counter-attacking threat at bay, only for Knight to lose the ball high up on our right flank. Gooch then stormed down the right at full pelt, crossing for Will Grigg who had Beevers on the back-foot to slam past Pym at his near post. A really disappointing finish to a match in which we had been comfortably better.

https://i.imgur.com/brnEoww.png

So all things told, an okay start to the season. A little bit inconsistent and some clera defensive weaknesses in terms of our left flank and set-pieces. Those are things we can work on though, and as our team cohesion improves I am sure that we will get better on that front.

https://i.imgur.com/EIJa3Bz.png
https://i.imgur.com/b84XpQW.png
https://i.imgur.com/yPjphlb.png
https://i.imgur.com/LKS9CQY.png
https://i.imgur.com/yJjF4fT.png

In terms of the month's best performers, Knight was head and shoulders above the rest. I had originally slotted him out as a central defender, but his performances at CM in pre-season convinced me that he is the perfect box-to-box player in this system, while he has also helped to balance out some of the weakness of our left-flank when Butler bombs forward. His two wonder goals were simply the icing on the cake.

https://i.imgur.com/8MHwhTc.png

In terms of development, Bobby Copping has been fantastic in training this month and also managed to feature in, and perform well in, two matches already this season. I expect to see a fair amount more of him this season, particularly if we can put in some decent performances in the Papa John's Trophy.

https://i.imgur.com/QAlhoaC.png

Gottlieb Pferd
10 months ago
1 month ago
16
SEPTEMBER 2019

We had an okay start to the season in August, highlighted by the fact that Knighty got voted Young Player of the Month for League One.

https://i.imgur.com/hNWZRKm.png

His form and his versatility is clearly going to play a key role for us this year. September would see us play a few winnable fixtures, but first off we headed down to Pompey for the first game of the Leasing.com trophy. I took a second-string side down for the game, with more pressing matters awaiting us on the weekend.

https://i.imgur.com/ZBDX0lk.png

Sadly, it showed. We actually didn't concede many chances and made plenty ourselves, but we were so weak defensively. We were really poor in the air, with even experienced pros like Jake Wright losing way too many aerial balls. In addition, Niall Mason was brought off early in the game and would be out for 5-6 weeks. Needless to say, few of these players had worked their way into my thoughts for the league matches.

https://i.imgur.com/N1SC2I4.png

Fortunately, my decision to rest players was again vindicated by an excellent away performance against Shrewsbury. Ivan Toney bossed the game, but the whole team put in a really dynamic display, limiting the opponents to long shots and making plenty of varied chances of our own. We might well have even scored more.

https://i.imgur.com/dEzsdKq.png
https://i.imgur.com/vCJvCMm.png

Scoring more was definitely the case in this game, and Ivan Toney went from hero to zero in this match. He himself had three clear cut chances handed to him on a plate as we completely dominated from start to finish, only to leave with just a single point. Toney wasn't the only one though, as we created an incredible six clear cut chances without scoring. On the plus side, it was another clean sheet for Pym and his defenders.

https://i.imgur.com/6fYntdh.png

Our next game saw us grab another three points, but it was far from a convincing performance. This time we created few clear cut chances and whilst we did dominate possession and do well in the air, we looked pretty toothless. There were a few anxious faces in our frontline, perhaps after our poor display in the last game, but the experienced George Boyd got us out of jail late on with an exceptional drive from 30 yards.

https://i.imgur.com/cwO6bpz.png

Next it was a trip to in-form Doncaster, and in another even game we fell this time to a set-piece - an area we had actually been looking pretty decent this month after showing frailties there in August. We had put in a really strong first half display, but after failing to take any of our chances, Doncaster grew into the game and ended up running out deserved winners.

https://i.imgur.com/L4Xpbn0.png

The same could not be said of AFC Wimbledon, but we only had ourselves to blame after handing them the victory in this match. A cruel way to end the month, we controlled possession but failed to get past their goalkeeper (who finished with a 7.2 rating). Their first goal came from a speculative cross down our left to the only attacker they had who managed to get ahead of three centre-backs to plant past Pym. If that wasn't dissapointing enough, Gotts then challenged Dadashov in the box in a rare second-half break to hand them chance to win it from the spot.

So on the whole, a promising start to the month turned rather sour with the back-to-back defeats against Doncaster and AFC Wimbledon, teams we really should be beating if we want to be in the play-offs. I remain optimistic, as the first few performances this month showed that we have the quality there. It's imperative that we begin to take our chances though, to take the pressure off of our back-line, which continues to prove more than a little shaky.

https://i.imgur.com/2i8g3MY.png
https://i.imgur.com/npyyAeb.png
https://i.imgur.com/mdWRTWR.png
https://i.imgur.com/AIJPYCi.png

As you can see, team cohesion is improving and I'm convinced that this has something to do with the inconsistency that we have shown so far. The season is a long one, and it is more important to end strongly, of course. We have to make sure that those two defeats at the end of the month don't turn into something more serious, though.

https://i.imgur.com/zQ56xif.png

Toney was the key man this month, but he still needs to be even more clinical. The performance against Rochdale was not good enough, and we really need him to score in those kinds of matches to take the pressure off for us. His strike partner Mo Eisa has been pretty poor this month, and has shown signs of mental fragility, which concern me. It's possible we will look to the market in January for another striker.

https://i.imgur.com/QkGDSck.png

Meanwhile, Idris Kanu put in some strong displays at right wing-back, perhaps the only player to come out of the 4-2 defeat against Pompey with any credit. Hopefully he can continue his excellent development so far.


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